Hey look at that, it really is 11:00 as I’m writing this. Of course that means actual post time will be a little later. But hey! Welcome to the grassroots.
I subscribe to Details magazine out of professional necessity. It is, theoretically, a fashion magazine, and I am from time to time a fashion writer, QED. And it is nothing if not educational.
I was struck particularly, for instance, by the juxtaposition of two two-page spread pieces on movie stars: one on Ralph Fiennes, pp. 34-5, and one on Kerry Washington, pp. 36-7. You don’t actually need to know who these actors are for this to make sense, just that the one named Ralph is male and the one named Kerry is female. Here’s Ralph’s spread:
And here, when you turn the page, is Kerry’s:
Some slight differences in graphic design, as you may have noticed. And maybe that’s fair. Maybe a whole lot more people want to see Kerry Washington mostly-naked than Ralph Fiennes, although my mother might argue with that. So arguably they’re just playing to the numbers here.
And that might be enough to soothe the ruffled feathers if this were just one of those provocative images circulating Facebook that juxtapose two obviously different things in the hopes that you will recognize the inequity inherent in them and, I don’t know, be shocked for a couple seconds before going back to Farmville or something. This sort of thing:
But this is in a magazine, and I’m actually a writer and not a graphic designer, so what interests me is the stories printed along with these images.
Both fill somewhat less than half a page of text when you take the headers and graphics into account. Both are subject-friendly little fluff pieces.
Ralph Feinnes’s is a Q&A format interview transcript. You have a bold-faced “Q: Blah blah blah” and then, a line later, Ralph’s “A: Blahdy blah blah blah.”
Kerry Washington’s is basically a short bio and credits listing interspersed with quotes that the author obviously got in an interview with her.
I don’t want to read too much into this. No, that’s a lie, I do — it’s a pretty pointed editorial decision to get interviews with two different stars, run them side by side, and keep one as a Q&A interview where the star does most of the talking while changing the other into a few select quotes surrounded by your magazine’s own editorial voice.
Maybe it has nothing to do with one star being male and the other being female. Maybe Kerry Washington just gives a really bad interview and they had to do some cosmetic surgery to it.
But with one article set up to look like it came out of Business Weekly and the other laid out like a Playboy centerfold it’s a little hard to believe that that’s all we have going on.
So…glamor mags are aggressively sexist, story at 11, like the title says, right?
And yes, boys, Details is a glamor mag. Sorry.